Biggest Non-UFC Fights: Wanderlei Silva vs. Dan Henderson

On February 24, 2007, Pride 33 was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. One of the bouts on the card that night featured Pride’s Welterweight Champion Dan Henderson squaring off against the Middleweight Champion of Pride: Wanderlei Silva. This was a somewhat unique contest because Henderson was attempting to become the first fighter to concurrently hold championships in two different weight classes in a major MMA organization. He would accomplish this feat if he could defeat the favored Silva and win the Middleweight Championship.

Wanderlei Silva was younger and more accustomed to fighting in the middleweight division than was Henderson. However, the bout was sanctioned using unified rules which meant that fighters could not use knees or elbows once their opponent was down. There would also be five rounds since it was a title bout.

Silva was known for his aggressive strikes and use of devastating elbows and knees on his opponents — he won many of his fights by way of knockout or submission from punches. Silva also almost never lost a contest when using Pride rules, which would not be applicable to this fight.

When the bout got underway, the two champion fighters seemed fairly evenly matched throughout the first two rounds. Each fighter had moments when he seemed to be taking control. However, the opposing fighter was able to reclaim some control and keep the fight going strong.

In the fight’s third round, this routine changed as Henderson gained the upper hand over Silva; Henderson was able to corner Silva and unload several punches which connected with Silva’s face and head. Then Henderson landed a big left hook and sent the middleweight champ down to the canvas. Silva was out and the bout was over with Henderson the upset winner. Dan Henderson now held both the Welter and Middleweight Championships of Pride — something no one had previously accomplished in a major MMA organization.

After this fight, Wanderlei Silva was not able to get sanctioned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission to fight in Pride. This was due to health concerns after Silva was knocked out. Silva would go onto join the UFC, where he was able to get sanctioned to compete. This would set up a much anticipated bout with Chuck Liddell of the UFC.

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